Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Evolett

Red Crabs, Spiders and Conquerors - The Others revealed

Recommended Posts

I happened on a passage in Davos’ first chapter in ADWD, one that covertly reveals that there are two classes of Others. We also learn more about their associates. As the title states, my findings centre around Red Crabs, Spiders and Conquerors. I haven't discovered any theory or thoughts quite like what I propose on the net but then again, searches do not always reveal everything. Apologies if this is old news^^

The evidence begins with a passage from Davos' first chapter in ADWD:

Consider this passage from Davos’ first chapter in a ADWD:

There’s three kinds of crabs in there. Red crabs and spider crabs and conquerors. I won’t eat spider crab, except in sister’s stew. Makes me feel half a cannibal.” His lordship gestured at the banner hanging above the cold black hearth. A spider crab was embroidered there, white on a grey-green field

ADWD, Davos I

This is Lord Godric Borrell of Sisterton on Sweetsister describing sister’s stew, which is served up for dinner. The ingredients of Sister’s Stew seem trivial; a mere sea-food dish after all. Strangely, he feels like half a cannibal when he eats spider-crabs in particular, apparently because crab is his sigil.

Sister’s Stew and its ingredients will give you indigestion if you pay close attention to the conversation before and after this passage however!

Here is a description of ‘Sister’s Stew’

We have a guest to feed. Bring beer and bread and sister’s stew.”

The beer was brown, the bread black, the stew a creamy white. She served it in a trencher hollowed out of a stale loaf. It was thick with leeks, carrots, barley, and turnips white and yellow, along with clams and chunks of cod and crabmeat, swimming in a stock of heavy cream and butter. It was the sort of stew that warmed a man right down to his bones, just the thing for a wet, cold night. Davos spooned it up gratefully.

“You have tasted sister’s stew before?” “I have, my lord.” The same stew was served all over the Three Sisters, in every inn and tavern.

“This is better than what you’ve had before. Gella makes it. My daughter’s daughter. Are you married, onion knight?” “I am, my lord.” “A pity. Gella’s not. Homely womenmake the best wives.”
ADWD, Davos I

Before this quote, Borrell tells Davos that he only has daughters:

I used to curse the gods who gave me only daughters until I heard Triston bemoaning the cost of destriers.

Borrell has no sons, only daughters. He refers to the woman who made the stew as ‘my daughter’s daughter’. A couple of paragraphs down, he uses this description again for another woman; in fact, this woman has ‘the mark’ – her hands are webbed, as are Lord Borrells:

The woman brought them a fresh loaf of bread, still hot from the oven. When Davossaw her hand, he stared. Lord Godric did not fail to make note of it. “Aye, she has the mark. Like all Borrells, for five thousand years. My daughter’s daughter. Not the one who makes the stew.” He tore the bread apart and offered half to Davos. “Eat. It’s good.”

Doesn’t all this remind you very strongly of Craster and his wives and daughters? Why does Borrell refer to his granddaughters as his ‘daughter’s daughters’? After mentioning his ‘daughter’s daughter’, he tells Davos that homely women make good wives. Like Craster’s wives, half of whom are ‘as old and ugly as Craster’, Borrell’s ‘homely’ daughter is not very attractive. Sisterton is a vile town, small and mean. Ser Borrells hall is gloomy and poorly lit, and a storm is raging outside when Davos arrives. Sounds very much like the conditions at Craster’s Keep.

The most remarkable part of the conversation between Lord Borrell and Davos is the description of the food.

The black bread served with the creamy white stew invoke wights and the different species of crab are quite revealing. Borrell feels ‘like half a cannibal’ when he eats spider crabs. After all GRRM’s allusions to Craster and his daughter wives, one cannot help but feel that the white spider crabs represent Craster’s sons. Why should Borrell feel like a cannibal for eating them otherwise?

There’s three kinds of crabs in there. Red crabs and spider crabs and conquerors. I won’t eat spider crab, except in sister’s stew. Makes me feel half a cannibal.” His lordship gestured at the banner hanging above the cold black hearth. A spider crab was embroidered there, white on a grey-green field
ADWD, Davos I

I’m not going to speculate on whether or not Lord Borrell sacrifices his sons to the Others but the above passage clearly equates white spider crabs with Craster’s sacrificed sons. The conquerors (conqueror crabs) are easily identified. They characterize the big bosses, the leaders of the Others, perhaps the very ones Old Nan talks about. The red crabs represent spiders (or perhaps wights).

We can assume the following hierarchy:

Conquerors: Generals of the Others (have appeared only in Old Nan’s tales of the Long Night).

Spider Crabs: Regular Others, perhaps the mentioned ‘White Walkers’, most likely Craster’s sons

Black bread and creamy white stew: Wights.

Red Crabs: White Spiders ridden by the Conquerors.

Generals, White Walkers and Giant Spiders

The Generals – the ‘Conquerors’

It makes sense for the Others to have leaders entrusted with the coordination of their war effort against humanity. I suspect these are the Others Bran hears about from Old Nan. If so, we must assume they are keeping a low profile until some event triggers their appearance on the stage. The prospect of these entities riding giant spiders that also serve as ‘bloodhounds’ is rather terrifying. One only has to observe a normal spider to imagine what the Others might be capable of with these creatures in their service. Climbing for sheer, steep surfaces for instance. Hanging from the ceiling, stalking, silent and deadly, pouncing out of the gloom. Does this imply that the giant spiders weave webs as well? Oh my, the implications!

White Walkers (Craster’s Sons) – The Spider Crabs

I’m quite certain that the sons turned Other originally born to Craster serve as a counterpart to the Night’s Watch. These are the Others that we have seen in the story so far. The name ‘White Walker’ is actually a fitting term in this regard. I think of them as ‘White Watchmen’, a play on words. Night’s Watchmen patrol (they walk) the Wall and go on rangings into the Haunted Forest, essentially keeping watch, clearing the expanse of land before the Wall for better visibility and hunting down wildlings raiders. I think GRRM gives us a hint here as well. Gilly specifically says that her baby’s brothers will come for him. Once a man speaks his vows, the Night’s Watch becomes his family and all members are brothers. Notice that the white brothers are the opposite of the black brothers.

Counterparts of the Night’s Watch

The White Walkers are currently tasked with ‘ranging’ and scouting. Their duties include recruiting their army by killing and raising humans north of the wall. While they also kill small groups of wildlings and stragglers on the outskirts of Mance’s train, their prime initial goal was to eliminate as many Black Brothers as possible. The attack on the Night’s Watch at the Fist of the First Men was a concerted and successful effort to achieve this. The appearance of such a large crew of Night’s Watchmen must have felt like Christmas to them. Further evidence in this regard are the two dead brothers (Othor and Jafer Flowers) taken back to Castle Black after their discovery close to the Wall. Sam rightly pointed out that they must have been dead for some time and that they were probably dragged to that designated spot. Those bodies were placed there so that they would be found and taken back to Castle Black. We all know what happened in the night. The wights were definitely on a mission to kill Lord Commander Mormont and other leading members of the Night’s Watch.

Training grounds: Ser Waymar’s fateful encounter

Ser Waymar’s fateful encounter provides further evidence of the ranging and training activities of the WW. This is the only time a group of Others are seen to attack. The scene opens the first book, at a time when all of Westeros is oblivious to their existence. They obviously have a leader who comes forward to face Waymar, while the other five wait silently in the shadows. Of note here is that those waiting are referred to as ‘watchers’, perhaps a clue that this group is a counterpart of the NW in terms of their duties. The WW who fights Ser Waymar is comparable to a First Ranger of the NW. He does not attack outright but takes time to observe Waymar’s sword as if trying to determine something, probably what the sword is made of. Presumably, he deals the opening blow after he is satisfied by what he sees. His companions wait in the shadows, not interfering until Waymar is badly injured, his sword shattered. Only then do all come forward to butcher him. The entire scene feels like a lesson; a leader takes up the foe, trainees watch and wait on the side lines until an unseen command allows them to move into action.

The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal.
<snip>

The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery. The pale blades sliced through ringmail as if it were silk. Will closed his eyes. Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles.
AGOT, Prologue

The Wights – Black Bread and Creamy White Stew

My first assumption was that the red crabs in the Sister’s Stew represent wights. But where does the red colour fit in? It does not. Careful examination of the text reveals that the wights are dealt with in this sentence:

The beer was brown, the bread black, the stew a creamy white

Black bread and creamy white stew serve to describe the black hands and white bodies of wights respectively. The brown beer (a liquid) is reminiscent of the colour of dried blood. Dead Othor is described in this passage:

His flesh was blanched white as milk, everywhere but his hands. His hands were black like Jafer’s. Blossoms of hard cracked blood decorated the mortal wounds that covered him like a rash, breast and groin and throat.

Additionally, the text makes mention of Lord Borrell tearing the bread loaf apart and offering half to Davos, akin to Ghost tearing off dead Othor’s black hand. The bread is torn in two halves, an allusion to two black hands. GRRM gives the bread an active role – the bread mops up stew and swipes the trencher with the bread.

He tore the bread apart and offered half to Davos.

He mopped at his stew with a chunk of bread

The lord tore off another chunk of bread to swipe out his trencher.

I think these quotes firmly establish the identity of the wights in this allegory.

If the red crabs do not indicate wights, what do they represent then? From the available evidence, I believe GRRM is telling us that they are the spiders ridden by the Other generals.

White Spiders – Red Crabs

When Davos meets Borrel, he notices the lord’s webbed hands. Davos also notices this trait on Borrell’s ‘daughter’s daughter.

Borrell tells us that members of his family have exhibited ‘the mark’, webbed hands and feet, for five thousand years.

His nose was lumpy and red with broken veins, his lips thick, and he had a sort of webbing between the three middle fingers of his right hand. Davos had heard that some of the lords of the Three Sisters had webbed hands and feet, but he had always put that down as just another sailor’s story.
ADWD, Davos I

I don’t have to remind you that spiders weave webs.

The red crabs must be the clue for the white spiders mentioned by Old Nan:

All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes found no pity in them. They hunted the maids through frozen forests, and fed their dead servants on the flesh of human children.”

“And the Others smelled the hot blood in him, and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds—”
AGOT, Bran II

Perhaps you are not convinced yet. If not, consider the parallels between Ramsey Bolton and the Others who stalk with white spiders as big as hounds.

I think we all agree that Ramsey Bolten, bastard son of Roose Bolton, is one of the truly sinister characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. He upholds the ancient Bolton tradition of flaying and does not hesitate to inflict dreadful torture upon his victims. One of his more monstrous pursuits is hunting – hunting young women, to be precise. The unfortunate girl singled out for his sport is granted a head start, after which Ramsey and his hounds, his bitches, set off in pursuit. The hounds inevitably catch up with most victims. Ramsey rapes the girls before killing them. He names bitches after a girl who give him ‘good sport’. Compare these quotes with excerpts from Old Nan’s tales above.

Ben Bones, who liked the dogs better than their master, had told Reek they were all named after peasant girls Ramsay had hunted, raped, and killed back when he’d still been a bastard, running with the first Reek. “The ones who give him good sport, anywise. The ones who weep and beg and won’t run don’t get to come back as bitches.”
ADWD, Reek III

“Ramsay will use your women as his prey,” he told the singer. “He’ll hunt them down, rape them, and feed their corpses to his dogs. If they lead him a good chase, he may name his next litter of bitches after them”
ADWD, Theon

Red Jeyne loped over to lick at his hand, and Helicent slipped under the table and curled up by his feet, gnawing at a bone. They were good dogs. It was easy to forget that every one was named for a girl that Ramsay had hunted and killed.
ADWD, The Turncloak

Not only do we have Ramsey stalking and killing young women with his dogs, we are also told that he keeps bitches. Theon, who has to sleep with the dogs and fight with them over food, refers to Ramsey’s bitches as ‘the girls’. There is no mention of male dogs in the pack. We are reminded of Craster and his wives/daughters yet again and the victimised girls are ‘reincarnated’ in the form of Ramsey’s bitches. Another parallel to Craster’s sons who are ‘reincarnated’ as Others. Gilly tells as so when she says her baby son’s brothers will come for him.

I think this is too great a parallel to be discounted but here is more:

One of the dogs is named Red Jeyne. This invokes both Red Crabs (my designated spiders) and poor Jeyne Poole, our false Arya, who is currently married to Ramsey. Red Jeyne is mentioned quite a number of times in Theon’s chapters. In addition to that there is also foreshadowing pertaining to Jeyne’s possible fate:

He could see a spiderweb of faint thin lines across her back where someone had whipped her.
ADWD, The Prince of Winterfell

Another of Ramsey’s bitches, Grey Jeyne, is quite a wily creature. I think she represents Arya and foreshadows Arya’s involvement in the fight against the Others:

The bone was beyond him, though, so he tossed it to the dogs and watched Grey Jeyne make off with it whilst Sara and Willow snapped at her heels.
ADWD, A Ghost in Winterfell

By the time Ben Bones pulled them off, Grey Jeyne had eaten so much of the dead man’s face that half the day was gone before they knew for certain who he’d been …
ADWD, A Ghost in Winterfell

So, that's it.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from an Arya chapter in ADWD.

Arya Forshadowing

The old man’s hands were the worst thing about him, Cat decided the next day, as she watched him from behind her barrow. His fingers were long and bony, always moving, scratching at his beard, tugging at an ear, drumming on a table, twitching, twitching, twitching. He has hands like two white spiders. The more she watched his hands, the more she came to hate them.
ADWD, The Ugly Girl

The term ‘white spider’ appears only twice in all five books.

All this provides plenty of fodder for more thought and theories. The idea also supports theories surrounding the Boltons. Looks like we'll be seeing giant white spiders and the elite Others in the next book.

I've also posted this on my blog. It's basically the same save for a few other details such as Old Nan's quotes and a summary of what we know about the Others so far.

You'll find a link to that in my signature below.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi folks,


Posting this has been quite a headache - I kept on getting error messages and have ended up with 3 main posts here. I've deleted the content elsewhere. Sorry about that.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there aevolett, nice work. My buddy Voice of the First Men developed this idea - the three ranks of Others - but without stumbling upon the spider crabs thing, which, admittedly, is quite subtle and quite convincing. That's really good sleuthing there. Take a look at his theory, compare notes, you may find something there.. And I'm sure he'll want to read this. :)

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/125675-the-hierarchy-of-the-others/#entry6788893

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the link to your blog?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is based on a faulty premise. Daugter's Dauhter does not imply my daughter by my daughter. it means granddaughter. He even seeks to wed her to Davos. Your comparison to Craster is blown out of the water.



That being said, nice metapor for the possible Other heirarchy.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there aevolett, nice work. My buddy Voice of the First Men developed this idea - the three ranks of Others - but without stumbling upon the spider crabs thing, which, admittedly, is quite subtle and quite convincing. That's really good sleuthing there. Take a look at his theory, compare notes, you may find something there.. And I'm sure he'll want to read this. :)

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/125675-the-hierarchy-of-the-others/#entry6788893

Thx! I'll check out that link :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the link to your blog?

You'll find my budding blog here or in the signature below.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is based on a faulty premise. Daugter's Dauhter does not imply my daughter by my daughter. it means granddaughter. He even seeks to wed her to Davos. Your comparison to Craster is blown out of the water.

That being said, nice metapor for the possible Other heirarchy.

Yes, I do realize and admit that in the post that but then again, I don't think the author makes it that easy for us. I think the quote about wedding her to Davos simply serves as another clue to Craster's wives. The reference to *'daughter's daughter' instead of grand-daughter is rather odd, don't you think? All these pointers to daughters. Borrell reiterates that a couple of times. What nails it for me is when Borrell says he feels half a cannibal when he eats spider crabs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I do realize and admit that in the post that but then again, I don't think the author makes it that easy for us. I think the quote about wedding her to Davos simply serves as another clue to Craster's wives. The reference to *'daughter's daughter' instead of grand-daughter is rather odd, don't you think? All these pointers to daughters. Borrell reiterates that a couple of times. What nails it for me is when Borrell says he feels half a cannibal when he eats spider crabs.

But Craster is not a cannibal. I have no idea how you made that connection. Sacrifice and consumption are very different, even opposites.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But Craster is not a cannibal. I have no idea how you made that connection. Sacrifice and consumption are very different, even opposites.

Craster is not a cannibal. Neither is Lord Borrell. He tells Davos that he’s not a cannibal.

Let’s assume that the white spider crabs represent sons (or boys). He clearly states that he won’t eat those crabs unless they are served in sister’s stew, i.e. to follow the metaphor, he does not eat human flesh. He only seems to trust the ingredients present in sister’s stew and will not eat those crabs otherwise. Consider passage below, from one of Brienne’s chapters. Nimble Dick tells her a tale about ‘squishers’. These strange beings are said to have webbed feet and hands. They steal children, keep the girls to breed with and eat the boys. Borrell bears webbed hands and so do his daughters. If squishers even exist only in legend, he would know about them. The tale shows that they are cannibals and they eat sons.

The clues given are not absolute one on one parallels between Craster and Borrell but they serve to identify the white spiders as boys and since Borrell only has daughters, we can therefore infer that white spiders represent sons. I hope this serves to clarify my train of thought. Here’s the quote:

“Best we keep a watch tonight, m’lady,” Crabb told her, as she was struggling to get a driftwood fire lit. “A place like this, there might be squishers.”

“Squishers?” Brienne gave him a suspicious look.

“Monsters,” Nimble Dick said, with relish. “They look like men till you get close, but their heads is too big, and they got scales where a proper man’s got hair. Fish-belly white they are, with webs between their fingers. They’re always damp and fishy-smelling, but behind these blubbery lips they got rows of green teeth sharp as needles. Some say the First Men killed them all, but don’t you believe it. They come by night and steal bad little children, padding along on them webbed feet with a little squish-squish sound. The girls they keep to breed with, but the boys they eat, tearing at them with those sharp green teeth.” He grinned at Podrick. “They’d eat you, boy. They’d eat you raw.”

AFFC, Brienne IV

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems that "long wait" for TWoW makes people too keen on looking for second meaning when there's none. Long boring nights waiting for something that doesn't come and you find yourself sucking conspirologic theories out of your thumb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems that "long wait" for TWoW makes people too keen on looking for second meaning when there's none. Long boring nights waiting for something that doesn't come and you find yourself sucking conspirologic theories out of your thumb.

You know, if you don't have a specific refutation of this theory, all you're really saying by dismissing it out of hand is that it's too complex for you to try to understand, or that you are badly underestimating the skill and complexity of George R. R. Martin. He's left very subtle puzzles like this all through the series, and he has consistent ways of using foreshadowing and metaphor which many of us have learned to watch for. This theory may be wrong, absolutely - but dismissing it simply because it seems too subtle and complex is pretty lame. You didn't address any of the symbolic parallels which the OP highlighted - and they exist, so they must be explained. There's way too much here to be pure coincidence. Perhaps the conclusions drawn are wrong, but the the evidence gathered here does mean something.

Not only that, but another smart poster named Voice of the First men came up with this exact theory - three classifications of Others, along these same lines - but he did so using COMPLETELY different means and clue to get there. This indicates that there is likely a truth hidden here about the classification of the Others. The link to VotFM's thread is a couple of posts up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great parallels. Have you read TWOIAF? I do not have it at hand now, but there is more to draw parallels from.



However, I have two questions.


- Why is Crasters describing himself as a friend of the NW?


- In the light of your theory and your thoughts about the white walkers pun, how do you see the part of the NW oath that says "we are the watchers on the walls". Walls, not the Wall, not a wall?


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

- Why is Crasters describing himself as a friend of the NW?



He's not much of a double agent if He doesn't cozy up to both sides. He makes demonstrations of friendship to both, by providing sacrifices to the Others and support to NW rangers. Not that he is actually loyal to either, he's an opportunist looking after his own interests.



- In the light of your theory and your thoughts about the white walkers pun, how do you see the part of the NW oath that says "we are the watchers on the walls". Walls, not the Wall, not a wall?



You didn't ask me, but it's clearly stated that there is the physical wall of stone and ice, and the magical wall made of spells. The NW oath has a base in the idea that they do watch over both walls, even if they no longer have the means to maintain the magic.





A lot is made in this theory of the oddness of not simply saying "grand-daughter." This is a rather isolated island community, one needs only look at places like Newfoundland and Iceland to see how isolation leads to peculiarities of speech that over time become distinct languages. I just don't see this peculiarity as being significant.



The part about cannibalism is also very thin stew, IMO. How many Targs have over-identified with dragons in this series, or Lannisters with lions? Some small-time lord aggrandizing himself by overly identifying with his crab sigil is utterly unsurprising, his comments are easily dismissed as puffery or a badly told joke.



The insect-like hierarchy actually sounds rather plausible and if it were directly supported elsewhere in the text I could go along, but the recipe for a dinner entrée being a metaphor for that hierarchy? I'm not buying that part. The simpler explanation is that the human brain evolved to look for patterns in visual and auditory noise, in order to detect threats. We see sheep in clouds, tell stories about arrangements of stars that look like bulls or drinking ladles. This is just pattern recognition and imagination running amok.



I agree GRRM leaves little puzzles and inside jokes in the work. I also suspect he laughs his head off in private when he leaves a connect-the-dots puzzle with no actual solution, knowing that someone will superimpose a pattern he'd never thought of on the jumble of dots.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree GRRM leaves little puzzles and inside jokes in the work. I also suspect he laughs his head off in private when he leaves a connect-the-dots puzzle with no actual solution, knowing that someone will superimpose a pattern he'd never thought of on the jumble of dots.

Do you think he’s actually doing this? I don’t. I think he’s setting puzzles in the backstories that really don’t have much relevance to the main plot, beyond a bit of context, mainly because he likes making puzzles and knows his readers are looking for them. I don’t think he’s setting up puzzles with no solution (that’s just my gut instinct), as that would be akin to deliberately trolling his readers. I mean, perhaps he’s doing just that and cackling all the way. I just don’t think so. I think he’s a very clever man who likes feeling clever (I myself worship the god of clever, and believe I am recognizing my own here), and setting these deeper puzzles and waiting 20 years for people to solve them is what I think floats his boat. He’s one of those types that doesn’t say more than he needs and enjoys holding things back, enjoys holding his secrets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The food porn and the description of cities and things are the grass in which the snake hides

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×